7 Tips To Handle A Relationship With Someone Exhibiting Narcissistic Behavior

Handle Relationship With Partner Exhibiting Narcissistic Behavior
Handle Relationship with Partner Exhibiting Narcissistic Behavior

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Many people in relationships reach out for support when navigating challenging times. While this is common, certain types of relationships can be more challenging than others. For instance, if you suspect that your partner exhibits narcissistic behavior, advice could help.

It can be stressful to live with someone with narcissistic traits or tendencies or caring for a loved one with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Understanding the dynamics of narcissism is essential for maintaining healthy boundaries and protecting your well-being.

What is a Narcissist?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition. The condition involves a pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

Individuals with NPD may exhibit arrogance, an inflated self-image, and a disregard for the feelings of others.

NPD is part of a cluster of personality disorders. It often emerges in early adulthood, affecting more men than women.

Common Narcissistic Traits

People with narcissistic behavior may exhibit some or all of the following traits and tendencies:.

The Desire to Be the Center of Attention

People with narcissistic traits often seek validation and admiration from others. They may consistently seek the spotlight.

People exhibiting narcissistic traits might dominate conversations, interrupt others, or engage in attention-seeking behaviors. They tend to ensure that they are the focal point.

The Habit of Giving Unsolicited Advice

Driven by a belief in their own superiority and expertise, people with narcissistic traits may offer advice. They can perceive themselves as highly knowledgeable. This drives them to impart their wisdom onto others. You don’t need to ask or even appreciate it.

A Disdain for Waiting and Entitlement

People with narcissistic traits often possess a sense of entitlement. They can believe that they deserve special, preferential treatment. They may become impatient or irritable. People with narcissistic traits can appear to view delays or inconveniences as a personal affront.


A hallmark trait of narcissism is grandiosity. Grandiose people exhibit an exaggerated sense of their own importance, power, or achievements. They may boast about their accomplishments. Some people with narcissistic traits will inflate their abilities. They may even exaggerate their talents to maintain a facade of superiority.

Tactical Charm

People with narcissistic traits are often skilled at charming others to manipulate or exploit them for personal gain. They may use charisma and flattery to win people over and gain their trust. Sometimes their motives are completely self-serving.

A Competitive Nature

Driven by a need to assert dominance and superiority, people with narcissistic tendencies are inherently competitive. They may view interpersonal interactions as battlegrounds, and they have to win. People with narcissistic traits strive to outshine others to maintain their self-image.

The Tendency to Hold Grudges

People with narcissistic tendencies have difficulty forgiving perceived slights or injustices. They might harbor long-standing resentment towards those they believe have wronged them.

It’s also common for many people with narcissistic behavior to fixate on past grievances. Revenge or retaliation against perceived enemies may feature prominently in their lives.

An Inability to Accept Blame

People with narcissistic tendencies may struggle to take responsibility for their actions. They might deflect blame onto others or external circumstances.

It can seem as if things are rarely, if ever, their fault and they can create narratives to support this role. This kind of behavior suggests difficulty acknowledging their own shortcomings or mistakes.

Understanding these propensities can help loved ones recognize and navigate relationships with people with narcissistic traits.

Sometimes strategy and healthy coping skills are necessary. They can preserve the emotional well-being and boundaries of people associated with people with narcissistic tendencies.

Narcissistic Traits vs NPD

There is a distinct difference between people with diagnosed NPD and someone with narcissistic traits. While everyone can display narcissistic traits from time to time, NPD symptoms are more severe and pervasive.

Part of the clinical standard to diagnose NPD is that one’s symptoms must significantly impact their daily functioning.

NPD is characterized by a lack of empathy, an inability to form meaningful relationships, and a persistent need for validation and admiration from others.

Potential Underlying Causes:

The development of narcissistic personality disorder may be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Traumatic experiences, such as abuse or neglect in childhood, can contribute. These factors can influence the development of maladaptive coping mechanisms associated with narcissistic behavior.

Effects on Others

Living with or caring for someone with narcissistic traits, or NPD, can have significant psychological and emotional impacts.

Individuals with NPD may experience interpersonal conflict and functional impairment. These types of challenges can make therapy and other relationships difficult.

Anyone around people with narcissistic tendencies can experience negative effects for various reasons. Fortunately, there is some standard advice that may help.

7 Tips to Help if You’re in a Relationship With Someone Exhibiting Narcissistic Behavior

Cognitive behavioral therapy for narcissistic personality disorder is an established treatment. However, CBT can also help friends and family of someone exhibiting narcissistic behavior.

CBT-trained professionals can delve into the strategies seen below in detail and depth.

Meanwhile, understanding the dynamics of narcissism right now may help manage these relationships.

Here are seven strategies for interacting with people exhibiting narcissistic traits.

Recognize Narcissistic Traits

Understanding the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is the first step. Individuals with NPD often exhibit grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy. Being aware of these traits can help you identify problematic behaviors in your interactions.

Set Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from manipulation and exploitation. Narcissistic individuals may push boundaries and disregard your needs. Many can learn to communicate limits and uphold them, even in the face of resistance or manipulation.

Avoid Engaging in Battle

Refrain from getting drawn into power struggles or arguments with narcissistic individuals. They thrive on conflict and may use manipulation tactics to assert dominance. Instead, focus on maintaining your composure and protecting your emotional well-being.

Document Interactions

Keep records of conversations, interactions, and any incidents of perceived manipulation or abuse. Documentation can serve as evidence and provide validation of your experiences if needed. It’s important to safeguard yourself against gaslighting or attempts to distort reality.

Seek Support

Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals for support. Dealing with narcissistic individuals can be emotionally draining. Having a support network can provide validation and perspective on your experiences.

Establish Personal Boundaries

Recognize and assert your own needs and boundaries in the relationship. Avoid sacrificing your well-being or compromising your values to accommodate the demands of a narcissistic individual.

Practice self-care and prioritize your own mental and emotional health.

Maintain Perspective

Keep in mind that you cannot change or fix the behavior of others. Focus on protecting yourself and maintaining your own integrity in the relationship.

It may help to keep some emotional distance. Detaching from expectations for reciprocity or validation from the narcissist can bring clarity.

Managing, Not Fixing

It’s never anyone else’s job to fix someone else. What can be done is gathering information, offering support that feels safe, and having a protective plan of action.

Remember that navigating relationships with narcissistic individuals requires patience, resilience, and self-awareness. Understanding the characteristics of narcissism can inform decision-making.